OGDEN, Utah, Sept. 27, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — A former nurse who worked at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, and who infected seven patients with hepatitis C, has pleaded guilty to four drug-related charges against her as part of a plea deal.
Elet Neilson, 53, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to:
- Two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer product (downgraded from tampering to attempted tampering)
- Two counts of unlawful acts with controlled substance — fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance
In exchanged for her plea, all other charges will be dismissed. Neilson originally was charged with eight product tampering charges, all related to her work at McKay-Dee Hospital’s emergency room in 2014.
Federal prosecutors accused Neilson of injecting herself with a portion of painkiller doses prescribed for patients, then giving them the rest of the dose.
Neilson had hepatitis C, and state health officials have estimated her actions exposed as many as 7,200 unknowing patients to the virus.
At least seven of those she treated contracted hep C, a virus that can lead to liver failure and contribute to death from complications.
Neilson’s plea deal paperwork included her statement of guilt:
“Between July, 2013, and November, 2014, I was employed as an emergency room nurse at the Mckay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah, in the District of Utah,” Neilson’s statement says.
“As a nurse, I had access to controlled substances, including hydromorphone and morphine, both of which are schedule II controlled substances. During this time, and on multiple occasions, I tampered with hydromorphone and morphine that were intended for patients in the emergency room.
“While tampering with these controlled substances, I also diverted and otherwise acquired and used hydromorphone and morphine that was intended for patients at the McKay-Dee Hospital emergency room.
“By tampering, diverting, and using these drugs, I admit that I acted with reckless disregard for the risk that another person would be placed in danger of death or bodily injury and did so under circumstances that manifested extreme indifference to that risk.”
Neilson’s statement admitted that she diverted drugs for her own use, without authorization from her employer, and, “… was able to do this by subterfuge, misrepresentation, fraud, forgery or deceit because I was acting as a nurse in the emergency room.
“As a result of my tampering, diversion, unlawful acquisition, and use of hydromorphone and morphine, I infected seven (known) persons with I-Hepatitis-C 2B, and thereby caused serious bodily injury to those seven people.”
The document also says that in exchange for the guilty plea, the plaintiff, “the United States has agreed to not argue for a sentence longer than 10 years.”
Neilson can be sentenced to zero to 10 years, assuming the judge accepts the terms of the plea deal.
Her sentencing date is set for December. Neilson will learn the amount of restitution she must pay at the time of sentencing, the document says, and failure to pay restitution can result in her plea deal being revoked.